wildlife service

You know a lot of people don’t know this but…

A new chapter in the wild began today for 26 eastern indigo snakes reared at the Zoo in the latest milestone in a conservation partnership to restore a native species to its original range. In a collaboration between Zoo Atlanta, the Central Florida Zoo’s Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation and Auburn University, the snakes were released into the Conecuh National Forest near Andalusia, Alabama, on July 14, 2017.

Previously to the beginning of a reintroduction effort, the eastern indigo snake had not been sighted in the wild in Alabama in around 50 years. The snakes are a keystone species of the longleaf pine-wiregrass and sandhills ecosystem, and their reintroduction carries significant positive ecological benefits for the national forest.

Zoos are known for their conservation work on other continents around the world, but conservation begins in our own backyards. This is a notable example of a project that continues to have a direct impact on re-establishing an iconic species in its native range.

Our Zoo has reared more than 80 eastern indigo snakes for the reintroduction program, which is a cooperation among stakeholders throughout the Southeast. Additional project partners include the Alabama Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and The Nature Conservancy.

The newest group of reintroduced snakes had been reared here since 2015. As they had been designated for release into the wild, the young snakes received care and feeding in behind-the-scenes facilities where they had limited interactions with humans. In this environment, the snakes were able to grow to a size capable of avoiding many of the predators that feed on juvenile snakes.

Prior to their release, the snakes received passive integrated responder tags (PIT) for identification. Preliminary results from tracking efforts have shown that previous groups of reintroduced snakes are surviving, thriving, and reproducing.

To date, more than 100 eastern indigo snakes have been released into Conecuh National Forest, a majority of which have been reared at the Zoo. The goal of the project is to release 300 snakes over a 10-year period at an average of 30 snakes a year.

The largest nonvenomous snake species in North America and a native of southern Georgia, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi, the eastern indigo snake has declined across its historic range with the destruction of its ecosystem. This decline is also observed in Georgia’s state reptile, the gopher tortoise, which creates burrows that are often used by eastern indigo snakes and other species.

Eastern indigo snakes play an additional valuable role in their environment by keeping other snake populations in check, as they are known to eat venomous species, including copperheads. These snakes are not constrictors; instead, they overpower their prey using the crushing force of their jaws.

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I’m devastated to learn that the white nose fungus has hit Minnesota bats in catastrophic levels this winter, with a population loss of 30-70% in some areas. The epidemic has killed millions of bats across the country, spreading from colony to colony and disturbing bats during hibernation so they use up their energy stores and freeze. Besides being precious amazing darling creatures who we should protect no matter what, bats contribute the equivalent of billions of dollars of pest control and pollination in the US, which hints at the real costs of policy decisions and budget cuts that neglect wildlife and take their services for granted.

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Musk Ox

The musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) is an Arctic mammal of the family Bovidae, noted for its thick coat and for the strong odor emitted during the seasonal rut by males, from which its name derives. This musky odor is used to attract females during mating season. Its Inuktitut name “umingmak” translates to “the bearded one”. Muskoxen primarily live in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, with small introduced populations in Sweden, Siberia, Norway, and Alaska. 

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Are you excited for World Turtle Day? From tiny, cute baby turtles to massive 1,500 pound leatherbacks, these fascinating animals can be found in almost every ecosystem around the world. Carrying their shells, they’re at home wherever they roam. Human intervention has threatened some turtle species, so please make sure you don’t disturb or distract them, especially nesting sea turtles. Photo of green sea turtles at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge by Daniel W. Clark, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Most American school children learn that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, leading us to join World War II. This week marks the 75th anniversary of Japanese-Americans being subsequently rounded up and interned as suspected enemies of the state. But there’s another tragic and untold story of American citizens who were also interned during the war. I’m a member of the Ahtna tribe of Alaska and I’ve spent the better part of 30 years uncovering and putting together fragments of a story that deserves to be told.

In June 1942, Japan invaded and occupied Kiska and Attu, the westernmost islands of Alaska’s Aleutian Chain, an archipelago of 69 islands stretching some 1,200 miles across the North Pacific Ocean toward Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. From a strategic perspective, Japan wanted to close what they perceived as America’s back door to the Far East. For thousands of years, the islands have been inhabited by a resourceful indigenous people called Aleuts. During the Russian-American Period (1733 to 1867), when Alaska was a colonial possession of Russia, Russian fur-seekers decimated Aleut populations through warfare, disease, and slavery.

Shortly after Japan’s invasion, American naval personnel arrived with orders to round up and evacuate Aleuts from the Aleutian Chain and the Pribilof Islands to internment camps almost 2,000 miles away near Juneau. Stewardship of the internment camps would fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USF&WS). Furthermore, orders included the burning of the villages to the ground, including their beloved churches, as part of a “scorched earth” policy. The Army’s stated purpose was to protect the Aleuts, who were American citizens, from the dangers of war. But one officer told astonished Aleuts that it was, as he put it, “Because ya’ll look like Japs and we wouldn’t want to shoot you.” That exchange is part of a documentary video called Aleut Evacuation.

The Other WWII American-Internment Atrocity

Photo: National Archives, General Records of the Department of the Navy

The Eastern Cougar

Officially declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the eastern cougar is still believed by many to still roam Eastern North America. The endangered species was declared extinct in 2011, and claimed it has been since the 1930’s. The general population seems to think otherwise, and the Canadian federal government has not yet accepted its extinction.

It is claimed that since the 1960’s, over 10,000 sightings of cougars have taken place in the eastern United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has acknowledged some of the sightings of cougars in the east, but claims they are of western cougars wandering into the east or of escaped pets. Due to this creature being officially extinct but still being spotted by the general population, the Eastern Cougar is now officially a cryptid.

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istefpayne Check out this band of bighorn #sheep! Ewes, lambs, and yearlings crossing the road in the Badlands.

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Idaho boy injured, family dog killed by government 'cyanide bomb'
A "cyanide bomb" planted by U.S. predator-control agents targeting coyotes near homes and hiking trails on BLM land in Idaho exploded when a boy handled the device, injuring him and killing his dog, authorities and relatives said on Friday.

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A “cyanide bomb” planted by U.S. predator-control agents targeting coyotes near homes and hiking trails in Idaho exploded when a boy handled the device, injuring him and killing his dog, authorities and relatives said on Friday.

Canyon Mansfield, 14, was playing with his yellow Labrador retriever, Casey, on Thursday afternoon near his home east of Pocatello when he saw what he thought was a sprinkler head on the ground and touched the device, causing it to detonate.

The explosion sprayed the boy and his 3-year-old, 90-pound (40 kg) pet with toxic cyanide gas, according to the boy’s mother, Theresa Mansfield.

“Canyon said there was a bang like a bomb, then an explosion of an orange substance that covered him and Casey, who was writhing in pain on the ground before he died right in front of Canyon,” she said.

Her husband, Pocatello physician Mark Mansfield, rushed to the scene and pounded on the dog’s chest in a futile effort to revive the animal.

The family and first-responders underwent decontamination procedures and the boy, who was sprayed in the face, was tested for cyanide poisoning at a hospital for the second time Friday, officials and family members said.

The device, called an M-44, was among several placed in the area by Wildlife Services, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that targets coyotes, wolves, cougars, foxes and other animals considered nuisances to farms and ranches.

The agency has been sued by conservation groups claiming that its programs to poison, trap and shoot various predator species violate federal environmental and wildlife protection laws.

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October’s falling temperatures trigger the annual migration of millions of monarch butterflies across the continent. Every fall, these lovely butterflies fly thousands of miles from as far north as Canada to overwinter in California and Mexico. When swarms of monarchs pause en route to rest and feed on nectar-bearing plants, admirers will see them blanket trees and shrubs in orange and black. Photo of a monarch butterfly chandelier in California by Joanna Gilkeson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Trump admin. to reverse ban on elephant trophies from Africa

The Trump administration plans to allow hunters to bring trophies of elephants they killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia back to the United States, reversing a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official confirmed for ABC News today.

I was telling my boyfriend about this and I decided that I had to make a post to introduce tumblr to Pedals the bear.

Pedals is a very special black bear because he always walks on his two hind legs and doesn’t like to use his front paws (bipedal, hence Pedals). A few years ago people started seeing him in and around my town and for a while no one was sure what the heck he was. Some people claimed that he was a man in a bear suit until people started capturing footage of him doing his thing. He became a local celebrity and NJ news networks started covering his appearances. 

People started worrying that he might be injured or a lost performing animal that wouldn’t be able to survive in the wilderness, so they called for an investigation from the local wildlife service to see if he needed to be taken into captivity. After monitoring him though, it became clear that Pedals taught himself how to do this due to an injury to his front paws when he was young, and continued to walk out of habit. He’s perfectly healthy and able to forage and be social with no problem, so he’s still free and wandering around my town. He has fans who follow his appearances and seeing him is a great surprise :]

This is Una. She is currently staying at SeaWorld Orlando’s manatee rehabilitation center in one of our critical care pools. The white slatted floor is a hydraulic false bottom which can be raised in order to bring the animals up out of the water for medical treatment with minimal stress. Thanks to the tracking and observation efforts of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership, we know quite a few details about her life. 

This isn’t her first time at SeaWorld. She was rescued as an orphaned calf in 2003, weighing in at 170lbs. At a weight of 980lbs, she was released at Blue Springs State Park with a few other manatees in 2006. She has been seen with a calf of her own, which is very exciting. However, she also suffered from at least one boat strike. She recovered and was left with five propeller scars on her back. Around 90% of manatees have wounds from boat strikes. The scars are used by scientists to identify individuals. Eventually, Una shed her tracking device but was still spotted regularly and easily recognized by the “A5” ID marking on her tail. In late November of 2016, she was discovered to be severely entangled. Both of her pectoral flippers were tightly wrapped in monofilament fishing line which had cut deeply into the tissue almost to the bone. This is what happens when people toss tangled up fishing line overboard or just let wads of it blow away. Please recycle monofilament fishing line properly.

 If you’d like to visit Una during her recovery, come see the Manatee Rehabilitation Area inside SeaWorld Orlando adjacent to the sea turtle habitat. The park is currently caring for 18 manatees. An adult manatee can eat around 200lbs of wet vegetation per day, and the little orphans are bottle fed specialized formula every two hours around the clock. Rescued patients need radiographs, ultrasounds, endoscopies, daily medications, tube feedings, wound care, and complicated surgical prodecures. SeaWorld of Orlando, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Miami Seaquarium, and the Jacksonville Zoo are the only facilites permited by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as designated manatee hospitals. Your visit funds the care of these sick and injured manatees and other rescued wildlife.

The Florida manatee was recently reclassified as “Threatened” (Previously “Endangered”), but the species is far from recovered. They still need all of the protection and support we can provide. “Not endangered” does not mean “not in danger”. If you are a Florida resident, please always vote for legislation that protects and benefits manatees. You can learn more about the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership here: public.wildtracks.org

Highly intelligent and resourceful, raccoons are one of the most widespread mammals in North America. They have adapted to live in forests, mountain areas, coastal marshes and even urban centers. In Native American legends, they are known as tricksters and mischief-makers. Their characteristic masks and dexterous paws make them seem cute and approachable, but never forget that they are wild animals. Photo by Gary Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Baby panda wants mail.

I hope you have your representatives on speed-dial! Use that phone for some good.

The Endangered Species Act may be heading for the threatened list. This hearing confirmed it.

A Senate hearing to “modernize the Endangered Species Act” unfolded Wednesday just as supporters of the law had feared, with round after round of criticism from Republican lawmakers who said the federal effort to keep species from going extinct encroaches on states’ rights, is unfair to landowners and stymies efforts by mining companies to extract resources and create jobs.

The Endangered Species Act is a 43-year-old law enacted under the Nixon administration at a time when people were beginning to understand how dramatically chemical use and human development were devastating species. It has since saved the bald eagle, California condor, gray wolves, black-footed ferret, American alligator and Florida manatee from likely extinction.

But members of the hearing said its regulations prevented people from doing business and making a living. In a comment to a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director who testified at the hearing, Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), repeated a point made by Barrasso that of more than 1,600 species listed as threatened or endangered since the act’s inception, fewer than 50 have been removed.

An American bald eagle prepares to snag a perch in the prime fishing grounds below Conowingo Dam in Darlington, Md., in November 2012. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Check marks the spot! A recovery program for one of the rarest butterfly species in Southern California, the Quino checkerspot, has reached an important milestone. A team of biologists from the San Diego Zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Conservation Biology Institute and San Diego State University observed multiple adult butterflies, following the first-ever release of larvae into their native range in the San Diego Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. The sightings of adult butterflies in the habitat is an early sign of success for the recovery effort for this precious pollinator.

“In the five years that we have partnered on this project, I have personally seen a total of six Quino checkerspot butterflies in the wild, in multiple habitats,” said Paige Howorth, associate curator of invertebrates at the San Diego Zoo. “Observing more than 35 butterflies flying in one day on the reintroduction site is extraordinary—it’s a welcome measure of hope, after years of drought and uncertainty for this species.”

The work to protect the Quino checkerspot butterfly continues during the second year of the assisted rearing program at the San Diego Zoo. Biologists collected 12 females in eastern San Diego County early last week to provide a foundation for the rearing of larvae at the Zoo. The wild adult butterflies were selected in the field based on an assessment of their body condition: vigorous, slightly older females that appeared to have already mated were chosen for the project. In this way, the butterflies can contribute eggs to both the wild population and the rearing project at the Zoo.

By a largely party-line vote Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that repeals Obama-era hunting restrictions on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The House already voted last month to abolish those restrictions — which were instituted by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 to protect predator species from hunters — and so the bill now heads to the desk of President Trump, who is widely expected to sign it.

The FWS rule facing repeal explicitly prohibited many kinds of “predator control” on the 16 federally owned refuges in Alaska. That prohibition included a ban on the aerial hunting, live trapping or baiting of predators such as bears and wolves — as well as on killing those predators while near their dens or their cubs.

Congress Rolls Back Obama-Era Rule On Hunting Bears And Wolves In Alaska

Image by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Fascinating animals, muskoxen look like survivors of the Ice Age. Whiles other arctic animals spend their winter in hibernation, muskoxen live in open, unsheltered tundra enduring the unforgiving elements that come their way. One secret to muskoxen survival is their two layers of fur – a very long outer layer of fur that looks like hair and a short fuzzy underlayer of qiviut. You can find muskoxen on several public lands in Alaska, including Cape Krusenstern National Monument. Photo by Doug Demarest, National Park Service.

Furry, feisty, paw-erful—Otter Girl! This amazing otter has quite the survival story—meet Selka!

Selka was found stranded in July of 2012 off Cayucos, California as a one-week-old pup. She was cared for at the Aquarium and released into the wild in June 2013. Unfortunately, eight weeks after release, she was found hauled out in Moss Landing Harbor with severe shark bite injuries. She underwent extensive surgery and recovery back at the Aquarium, and splashed back into the wild four months later.

After several months in the wild, Selka was brought back to the Aquarium due to concerns about her health and several interactions with people. She was declared non-releasable by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Selka spent the next two years at UC Santa Cruz’ Long Marine Lab, where she helped researchers understand how wild sea otters search for and acquire enough prey to survive in their ocean home.

Selka joined our exhibit in August of 2016. She’s clever, with an easy-going and inquisitive nature. Selka is our youngest otter and has the darkest fur of any of the otters at the Aquarium. Even at her young age, she’s already proven herself to be a successful surrogate mother. Check out this video of Selka raising her first pup!

Phew, what a story! Thanks for all you do for sea otters, Selka!

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Ridgenose Rattlesnake

The ridge nosed rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi), also known as Willard’s rattlesnake or Willard’s rattler, is a venomous pit viper species found in the southwestern United States and Mexico. Originally described in 1905, Crotalus willardi is the most recent rattlesnake species to be discovered in the United States. Five subspeciesare currently recognized.

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